We all long for it. We read books, we go to conferences, we listen to podcasts and sermons. We are all looking for the system that will teach us perfect parenting.
I am here to say: perfect parenting is a myth!
Not only is the idea that we can follow a certain system or style of parenting to turn out perfect children every time a myth, it is positively damaging to our homes and our children!
Did you ever stop to think what the mindset IS behind the idea of perfect parenting? I have because I’ve experienced it. There are 2 of them.
- fear of being judged by others
- fear of being thought to be an immature Christian
- fear of being a bad testimony
- fear of being embarrassed
- fear of being out of control
- fear of being seen as a bad parent
And the list goes on.
We want our children to be perfectly behaved when we are at church, in the grocery store, wherever we go. We want to be the one people come to for advice. We want to be the one people point to and say, “Look at her children, she’s doing it right!”
- pride in how well our children behave
- pride in how on top of things we are
- pride in our standing among other mothers
- pride in how our children don’t act like other children
- pride in the obvious maturity we must have
And the list goes on.
Raising our children is not about us… it is about God.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Col 3:12-13
When we focus on trying to find the perfect parenting tools, we put the whole focus of parenting on us and not on God. We make ourselves, our skills, our insight, our tools and our wisdom as the most important things in raising children.
The problem with this is that we lose sight of grace, mercy and forgiveness.
Let me ask you this:
Which is more important to a healthy home… compliant and well-mannered children or a heart of forgiveness?
Unfortunately, many parents would say the former. But, as Annie Sullivan said (in the Miracle Worker),
“to do nothing but obey is no gift; obedience without understanding is a blindness, too.”
We want much more for our children, or we should, than mere obedience. We want our children to understand… to understand the heart and grace and love of God.
I’ve seen the results of focusing on obedience with no concern for understanding God’s heart and forgiveness. It is a hardness and distance from our loving Father in Heaven. In the child, it often builds resentment and hostility. Both toward God and toward parents. And it can yield a heart filled with despair and loneliness. None of the things we desire for our children.
How can these things result simply from a desire to find a fantastic method of parenting?
Rebellion and despair are natural consequences when our eyes come off of God and onto methods.
Does this mean we shouldn’t ask questions or learn about parenting? Not at all. But it is vital that we realize that there is no perfect method or model of parenting. Each of us have children with their own sinful desires, character flaws, personalities, strengths and weaknesses. What may help to bend the will of one child may completely demoralize another.
It all comes back to listening to the Lord. He knows our children better than we do. He loves our children more than we do. He teaches us to parent by showering us with grace and forgiveness through the Cross. THIS is where we must start as parents.
Ask these questions:
- is my home flooded with an atmosphere of forgiveness?
- am I quick to offer grace to my children when they blow it?
- am I demanding or do I look to reconcile?
- do I long to lead them further into love with God?
- am I quick to examine the log that might be in my own eye?
- is my discipline with love and forgiveness?
- do I focus on how I look rather than on my children’s heart?
- is God the center of where I seek to go in my home?
I pray for each of you who might be reading this post. I pray that you can let go of the myth of finding a perfect method to raising perfect children. I pray that your heart of forgiveness and grace supersedes fears and pride in your parenting. I pray that your hearts and your children’s hearts will bond together in hope and love and grace. And I pray that the Spirit of God guides you, step by step, into wholeness and love in the grace of Jesus our Lord and King.